Richard Walker by Robert Eager NSSAR #179422

Richard Walker was born around 1755 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. While many vital records exist, they are spotty and inconsistent. Much of what we know of Richard Walker comes from family records handed down over generations.

According to that tradition, Richard was the third born child of Richard and Polly Walker. He was raised in a family with six brothers and one sister. There are many references to Richard’s marriage on 25 Aug 1778 to Mary Gilpin. It was recorded in Upper Marlboro, the seat of Prince George’s County.

From family records, we know that they had five children. At least one, Mary, died in infancy. Little is known of Benjamin, Sally, and Jane. Their youngest son, Henson Walker, born in 1787, has a family history that is recorded in great detail.

Maryland’s economy at that time was based almost entirely on tobacco production. Farms and small plantations dotted the shores of the Potomac and Patuxent rivers. In the earliest years, farmers of the region relied on indentured servants to work the labor-intensive tobacco crop. By the mid eighteenth century, farmers had turned to imported African slaves. We do not know Richard’s occupation or where he fit into the Prince George’s economy. We do know that Richard’s youngest son, Henson, as a young man, went to work as the overseer of slaves at a small plantation nearby.

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the Maryland Convention directed that every able-bodied freeman between the ages of 16 and 50 years of age was to enroll in a militia company. It seems likely that Richard Walker would have complied with this, but no records exist to prove it. There are, however, records from Prince George’s County that show that Richard Walker did sign the Oath of Loyalty and Fidelity. It reads as follows:

“I do swear, that I do not hold myself bound to yield any allegiance or obedience to the King of Great Britain, his heirs or successors, and that I will be true and faithful to the State of Maryland, and will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain, and defend the freedom and independence thereof, and the Government as now established, against all open enemies, and secret and traitorous conspiracies, and use my utmost endeavors to disclose and make known to the Governor, or some one of the judges or justices thereof, all treasons or traitorous conspiracies, attempts, or combinations, against this State, or the Government thereof, which may come to my knowledge. So help me God.”

Almost all the adult male residents of Prince George’s County signed the oath. Apart from the Anglican clergy and members of the Calvert family, there were few loyalists in all of Maryland.

It is not clear what happened to Richard and Mary. The DAR accepts the family records for the dates of their deaths, although no actual records can be found and there are no known gravesites. According to tradition, Mary Gilpin died at the age of 60 in 1818. She was most likely living in Prince George’s County at the time. By that time her son, Henson Walker, had moved his growing family to Manchester in Ontario County, NY. Some suggest that she died there, but that seems unlikely, especially since it is believed that her husband, Richard, died twelve years later in 1830 in Prince George’s County, MD.

References and Notes

Brumbaugh, Gaius Marcus, MS, MD, LittD, Maryland Records Colonial, Revolutionary, County, and Church, (Lancaster Press, Inc, Lancaster, PA, 1923), pp 256, 489.

Hienton, Louise Joyner, Prince George’s Heritage, (Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, 1972), p 176, 180.

Hurley, William N. Jr., Our Maryland Heritage, Book Two: The Walker Families, (Heritage Books, Westminster, MD, 2007) pp. 102-103.

Virta, Alan, Prince George’s County: A Pictorial History, (Donning Co. Publishers, Virginia Beach, VA, 1998), pp 28, 41.

Walker, Floyd, Henson Walker Family Record, (Transcript-Bulletin Publishing Co., Tooele City, Utah, 1963), pp 25-27.

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